Board of Health awaits test results from products suspected of containing synthetic marijuana

Nov 2, 2017

Products possibly in violation of the town’s synthetic drugs bylaw have been pulled from the shelves of four Wareham stores while the Board of Health awaits test results from a state laboratory.

On Wednesday, board members met with representatives from the four stores – Five Star Gateway Gas, Speedy Mart, New England Smoke Shop and Phat Daddy’s Smoke Shop – who said the items will not be sold until it’s determined if the products are illegal to sell. Board of Health officials said they are unsure when the state lab results will be completed.

“If your objective was to get the product off the shelf and make sure it’s not being sold at my client’s store, than that has been accomplished,” said Daniel Walsh, an attorney for Speedy Mart.

In October, the products were found during routine tobacco inspections. After the inspection, they were confiscated and local police, State Police, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health were all notified.

Health Agent Robert Ethier said police are testing the products for synthetic marijuana, which contains chemicals that mimic the effects of THC, the mood altering substance found in natural marijuana.

Ethier said during the inspections that Health Inspector Patrick MacDonald said the products’ packaging raised red flags. One product, a package of gummy bears, was labeled an “extreme mood enhancer” and was selling for $20.

Ethier said it’s possible the products contain hemp oil, but the board won’t know for certain until test results are back.

Board member Dr. Thomas Gleason noted the products are not federally approved and their ingredients are unknown. At a Board of Health meeting last month, members raised concerns that the items might contain synthetic marijuana.

In 2013, the board passed regulations banning the sale of those drugs in the wake of a nationwide scare where many people were hospitalized, or in some cases died, after ingesting products advertised as synthetic marijuana or bath salts. The products skirted drug laws because at the time there were no prohibitions against selling the chemical compounds.

MacDonald said once test results are back the products most likely will violate the town’s bylaw against synthetic marijuana, which prohibit the sale of substances that are chemically similar to marijuana and mimic its effects.